Quenton Nelson

Colts, G Quenton Nelson Agree To Four-Year Extension

The Colts were able to sneak in just under the buzzer, avoiding playing Pro Bowl guard Quenton Nelson this year on the final year of his rookie contract. Nelson and the Colts agreed to a “precedent-setting” four-year, $80MM extension that will include $60MM guaranteed, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.

This demolishes the ceiling atop the guard market. Brandon Scherff‘s $16.5MM-per-year Jaguars deal previously held the high-water mark, but Nelson is now on his own tier at the position.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk provides a detailed breakdown, noting that $41MM is guaranteed at signing. That includes a $31MM signing bonus and fully-guaranteed base salaries of $4MM and $6MM in 2022 and ’23, respectively. But it is all but certain that Nelson will hit the $60MM in guarantees that Schefter reported, as an additional $19MM is guaranteed for injury now and becomes fully-guaranteed on the fifth day of the 2023 league year.

The Colts had extended fellow offensive linemen Ryan Kelly and Braden Smith in the last couple of years, so Nelson was, naturally, next in line. General manager Chris Ballard absolutely loves the 26-year-old, calling him a Hall of Fame left guard at times and crediting Nelson as a huge contributor to the success of running back Jonathan Taylor.

Ballard is not off-base at all in his assessment. Since being drafted sixth-overall in 2018, Nelson has been named a first-team All-Pro in every year except last season (when he was named a second-team All-Pro) and has yet to miss being nominated for a Pro Bowl. With just four seasons under his belt, Nelson has the most total All-Pro selections by a guard in franchise history for the Colts and is just the second player in team history to make the Pro Bowl in each of his first four seasons.

The dependable lineman hadn’t missed a game in his NFL career until he sat out of four contests last season (perhaps the reason he was demoted to only second-team All-Pro). A high ankle sprain caused him to miss three games and he missed a fourth game on the reserve/COVID-19 list later on in the year.

On the point of his health, the Notre Dame alum recently said, “I feel great, no surgeries this offseason. It was just a chance to really work on my body… gaining more range of motion in my joints, more flexibility.”

Talks of reaching an agreement before the start of the regular season were not sounding promising in mid-August, but the eventual deal was considered a “foregone conclusion.” Now the deal is done and Nelson is the highest-paid guard in NFL history. Nelson is well worth the money and will look to continue his dominant play against the Texans tomorrow.

Latest On Colts’ Quenton Nelson Extension Talks

The top priority remaining this offseason for the Colts is a deal which will keep left guard Quenton Nelson on the books for the foreseeable future. The All-Pro lineman is set to play on the fifth-year option this season, but could very well have a massive extension finalized by the time the regular season starts. 

While a new contract “does not sound imminent” at this time, according to Joel A. Erickson of the Indianapolis Star, owner Jim Irsay is remaining confident that one will be in place soon. “I see that getting done,” he said when asked about the status of negotiations.

The Colts are eyeing a second contract for the 26-year-old by the end of August, keeping in line with standard club practice on substantial deals signed in recent years. CBS’ Joel Corry aptly calls it a “foregone conclusion” that Nelson will become the league’s highest-paid interior blocker once the deal is done – a title which currently belongs to Jaguars guard Brandon Scherff ($16.5MM per year). The question of whether Nelson will break the $20MM-per-year threshold, as only three left tackles have done, has been raised with talks ongoing.

Irsay added that, “it’s just a question of timing, and moving towards an agreement, like I always say, that favors both sides and is good for both sides. But you know we’ve never had a problem there when you look at the history of our franchise and our outstanding players going into second contracts, whether it’s been Reggie Wayne or Marvin Harrison or whoever.”

Corry observes that the Colts could be further incentivized to commit to a long-term deal since multiple franchise tags would carry a similar cost to the average of even a record-breaking multi-year extension. As Nelson still played at a Pro Bowl level last season despite dealing with multiple injuries, a major investment in him would still be considered a wise one by the Colts.

On the point of his health, the Notre Dame alum said, “I feel great, no surgeries this offseason. It was just a chance to really work on my body… gaining more range of motion in my joints, more flexibility.”

With Nelson in a good place health-wise and the Colts in better position than most teams with respect to cap space in the immediate future, an extension being finalized may well just be a matter of time at this point.

Colts Targeting August Quenton Nelson Extension; Kenny Moore Deal Tabled To 2023?

Ryan Kelly and Braden Smith each signed their extensions during Colts training camp, the former in September 2020 and the latter in July of last year. The team is hoping to have Quenton Nelson follow that path.

The Colts’ goal is to have Nelson signed by the end of this month, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. All other extension business is on hold. This includes Kenny Moore, who lobbied for a new contract this offseason, and Bobby Okereke, whom Fowler adds has emerged on the team’s extension radar. A 2019 third-round pick, Okereke is entering a contract year.

Nelson, who is 4-for-4 in Pro Bowl nods to start his career, is going into his fifth-year option season ($13.75MM). Neither Kelly nor Smith played a game on an expiring contract, with the former signing ahead of his fifth season and the latter before his fourth. This trio forms the core of what has been one of the NFL’s best offensive lines, and Nelson’s looming extension has undoubtedly influenced other Colts moves up front. Eric Fisher is gone, and the team also did not bring back four-year guard starter Mark Glowinski. Low-cost players are now in place at left tackle and right guard, respectively.

[RELATED: Assessing The Colts’ 2022 Offseason]

Colts GM Chris Ballard earmarked this offseason as the point in which a Nelson extension should come to pass, but Nelson’s age (26) and early-career performance do provide some complications here. The Notre Dame product’s second contract should be well north of the current guard salary ceiling (Brandon Scherff‘s $16.5MM-per-year Jaguars deal). Nelson taking the guard market to tackle territory and past $20MM per year should be considered in play.

If the parties cannot agree on a deal this year, the Colts have the option of a 2023 franchise tag. Guards are rarely tagged, as all O-line positions are grouped together on the tag, but the Commanders used this route with Scherff in 2020 and 2021.

With the Colts’ top two skill-position players — Jonathan Taylor and Michael Pittman Jr. — going into contract years in 2023, the team’s offense could become far more expensive by next year. On defense, Moore’s deal will need to be addressed by then. Under contract for two more seasons, Moore skipped some of Indy’s voluntary offseason program. Offseason reports indicated the sides were well apart on terms. Currently tied to an $8.33MM-per-year deal, Moore should be expected to move the slot cornerback position into eight-figure-AAV territory. But he could well have to play another season on his current pact, with Ballard not expected to consider an extension until next year.

The Broncos and Patriots dealt with underpaid corners with two years of team control left in the recent past. Denver gave Chris Harris an incentive package in 2018, while New England authorized a raise for Stephon Gilmore in 2020. (The Broncos gave Harris a raise in 2019, while the Patriots stood pat with Gilmore to lead him off their roster via trade last year.) The latter is now Moore’s teammate and attached to a bigger contract. Moore, who is coming off a Pro Bowl season, has not opted to stage a hold-in measure at training camp.

Colts Planning Quenton Nelson Extension

Following their decisions to extend Ryan Kelly and Braden Smith, the Colts figured to have the same plan for their top offensive lineman. They do, and a Quenton Nelson extension — with the three-time All-Pro guard entering his fifth-year option season — shifts to the forefront in 2022.

Quenton’s a Colt,” Colts GM Chris Ballard said, via Joel Erickson of the Indianapolis Star. “We want him to be a Colt long-term. When we do the contract, we’ll work through that.”

Obviously instrumental in Jonathan Taylor winning the rushing title by more than 500 yards, Nelson landing his fourth first-team All-Pro honor may well be on tap. Nelson is the only offensive lineman since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to earn such acclaim in each of his first three seasons. To lock down Nelson, the Colts will almost definitely need to authorize a guard-record contract — perhaps by a notable margin.

Joel Bitonio and Joe Thuney‘s $16MM-per-year deals represent the high-water mark at guard. Nelson should command north of $20MM annually, Erickson suggests. That would be a market-shifting accord and tie the Colts to three high-end O-line deals.

Drafted sixth overall in 2018, Nelson has teamed with Kelly and Smith to give the Colts a top-tier offensive front. The team has Kelly tied to the third-richest center deal; Smith’s pact sits fourth among right tackles. Right guard Mark Glowinski just played out a midlevel deal (three years, $16.2MM), and left tackle Eric Fisher is also set for free agency in March.

The Colts resisted moving Nelson to left tackle during Fisher’s injury hiatus, and although Chris Reed adequately replaced Nelson during his four missed games this season, Ballard confirmed Nelson is not changing positions.

Why would you move a Hall of Fame left guard to left tackle?” Ballard said. “It makes no sense to me. And look, he’s got a ways to go to be a Hall of Famer, but why would you move a great player to left tackle? We’re not doing it.

The franchise tag in 2023 would be an option for the Colts, should they have second thoughts about a market-topping extension. The team has not operated that way under Ballard, having not used the tag since 2013. Indianapolis is projected to rank among the top 10 in cap space going into the 2022 league year.

NFL COVID-19 List Updates: 12/29/21

Several key players returned to practice Wednesday. Here are the latest COVID-19 updates from around the league:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Activated from practice squad/COVID-19 list: WR Rico Bussey

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Colts Reached Out To Philip Rivers

The NFL revising its COVID-19 protocols yet again may allow the Colts to dodge a bullet. Carson Wentz is unvaccinated and tested positive Tuesday, but Frank Reich said he would start Sunday if he is asymptomatic, Stephen Holder of The Athletic tweets. Current Colts backup Sam Ehlinger would start if Wentz is experiencing symptoms at that point.

Reich has also remained in contact with the Colts’ 2020 starter, Philip Rivers. The two discussed the current Colts QB bind, Zak Keefer of The Athletic tweets. However, it does not seem like Rivers will come out of retirement to replace Wentz. Reich said nothing is developing on that front.

Rivers, 40, retired after spending last season with the Colts, but the current high school coach has said he would consider a return to join a contender. He was open to joining the Saints once Jameis Winston went down earlier this season. In his one Colts season, Rivers completed 68% of his passes and finished with a 24-to-11 TD-INT ratio. The Colts traded for Wentz not long after Rivers’ retirement.

Had the NFL not revised its protocols for a second time this month, Wentz would be shut down for Week 17 due to his positive test. Previously, unvaccinated players who tested positive were forced into 10-day quarantines. The NFL has reduced that to five, opening the door for Wentz to play Sunday. A sixth-round rookie, Ehlinger took first-team reps for a stretch after Wentz went down with a foot injury during training camp.

The Colts received more good news regarding their COVID-19 situation Wednesday. They activated offensive line starters Quenton Nelson and Mark Glowinski, along with cornerback Rock Ya-Sin and defensive end Kemoko Turay. However, right tackle Braden Smith is now on Indianapolis’ virus list. Smith could rejoin his teammates Sunday, however, regardless of vaccination status. Like Wentz, if Smith is not displaying symptoms, he could return Sunday against the Raiders. Smith was the Colts’ lone O-line starter available by the end of Week 16, but the team will have more of its starters on hand against Las Vegas.

Marlon Mack, cornerback T.J. Carrie, safety Jahleel Addae and linebacker Malik Jefferson join Smith as players now on Indy’s virus list.

NFL COVID List Updates: 12/24/21

We’ve compiled a list of players who were placed on or activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list today. In some instances, players activated from the list remain on IR:

Baltimore Ravens

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: S Chuck Clark, C Trystan Colon
  • Activated from practice squad/COVID-19 list: RB Nate McCrary
  • Placed on practice squad/COVID-19 list: QB Chris Streveler

Buffalo Bills

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: DB Jordan Fuller, TE Tyler Higbee
  • Placed on reserve/COVID-19 list: OL Cole Williamson

Miami Dolphins

  • Activated from practice squad/COVID-19 list: RB Gerrid Doaks

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

Seattle Seahawks

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: RB Travis Homer
  • Activated from practice squad/COVID-19 list: OL Pier-Olivier Lestage

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Colts Place Quenton Nelson On Reserve/COVID-19 List

The Colts will be without their entire interior offensive line Saturday. After they ruled out Ryan Kelly and Mark Glowinski, the Colts placed Quenton Nelson on their reserve/COVID-19 list.

A three-time All-Pro, Nelson is Indianapolis’ top offensive lineman and arguably the NFL’s premier guard. But, after Glowinski’s positive coronavirus test, Nelson will not be with the team in Arizona, either.

Indianapolis has dealt with availability issues across its O-line this season, but this will be a task for Carson Wentz, Jonathan Taylor and Co. Nelson did miss three games earlier this year, and he underwent foot surgery during training camp. But the former top-10 pick came back in Week 7 and had not missed any time since. Nelson became a four-time Pro Bowler this week and is on track toward a record-setting guard extension in 2022.

FiveThirtyEight.com pegs the Colts’ playoff chances at 89% going into Week 16, but the 8-6 team’s depth will be tested. The Colts used Chris Reed in place of Nelson earlier this season. Reed will start in Nelson’s place, per Frank Reich, who said Matt Pryor will fill in for Glowinski at right guard.

If Nelson is unvaccinated, he would miss the Colts’ Week 17 game — against the Raiders — as well. Nelson was unvaccinated going into the season, having been a close contact before Week 1.

Colts OLs Ryan Kelly, Mark Glowinski To Miss Saturday’s Game

The Colts continue to climb the AFC standings, but they’ll have to take on the formidable Cardinals on Saturday without two starting linemen. According to The Athletic’s Stephen Holder (on Twitter), linemen Ryan Kelly (personal) and Mark Glowinski (reserve/COVID-19 list) will both miss this weekend’s game.

Kelly was just named to his third-straight Pro Bowl, and the 28-year-old is having another standout season for Indy. He’s appeared in at least 90 percent of his team’s offensive snaps in his 12 starts. 2020 fifth-round pick Danny Pinter will likely get the start in place of Kelly.

Glowinski was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list earlier today. The former fourth-round pick has generally been a starter throughout his time with the Colts, and he’s started 12 of his 14 games in 2021. Chris Reed could get the nod in Glowinski’s stead.

While the team’s going to have to deal with some absences on their offensive lineman, they can rest easy knowing All-Pro Quenton Nelson will be in uniform. Per Holder, the offensive lineman was back at practice today after dealing with an illness earlier this week.

In other injury news, Holder notes that the team will also be without Andrew Sendejo (concussion) on Saturday. The 34-year-old defensive back joined the Colts back in September, and he’s started 10 of his 12 games this season. collecting 40 tackles.

Colts Activate Quenton Nelson From IR

Quenton Nelson will end up spending the minimum number of games during his first IR stay. The Colts activated the All-Pro guard ahead of Sunday night’s game against the 49ers.

A high ankle sprain stopped the three-time All-Pro’s start streak at 51 to start his career. Nelson kept that run going despite having foot surgery during training camp. Although Indianapolis went 2-1 without its top lineman, this certainly qualifies as good news for the team’s prospects in its second nationally televised game in three weeks.

The Colts will not have Braden Smith available, however. Indy’s right tackle will miss a sixth straight game due to foot and thumb injuries. Unlike Nelson, Smith has not spent time on IR this season. Nelson returned to practice earlier this week. Nelson, 25, will continue his track toward what will almost certainly be a record-setting guard extension. The Colts extended fellow 2018 draftees Smith, Darius Leonard and Nyheim Hines earlier this year. Nelson, however, has an extra year remaining on his contract thanks to the fifth-year option.

The Colts made room for Nelson by placing Julian Blackmon on IR. The second-year safety suffered a torn Achilles’ tendon in practice this week. Former second-round pick Josh Jones, who joined the Colts’ practice squad this week, is now on the team’s active roster for its San Francisco trip. So is veteran wideout Keke Coutee. The Colts ruled T.Y. Hilton out earlier on Saturday. Hilton made his return from a neck injury last week, but he is now battling a quad ailment.